Vail locals celebrate as ski season ends
VAIL – Joe Murad and co-worker James Bosma passed a bottle of red wine on Chair 2 as they headed to what some called the year’s best party – closing day at Vail. Murad – clad in purple and black and wearing a leopard-print hat – described himself as “Pimp Daddy Rocko” as he took a swig. “It’s part of the game,” said Murad, referring to the correlation between alcohol and closing day. Murad and others flocked to “Chair 4 at 4 p.m.” to imbibe and catch up with other Vail locals at the top of chairs 4,5 and 11 Sunday. Hundreds donned goofy gear, from neon-colored apparel, to a mariachi band without instruments, to a penguin. A beer bong draped over his shoulder, Sam Nicholson of Vail said he enjoys the party for its “debauchery.” He enjoys drinking with friends, said Nicholson, clad in a 1989 neon orange Vaurnet jacket.
Jeannine Anders likes closing day so much, she showed up despite a cracked rib from a fall while skiing. Vail’s vastness usually prevents her from seeing all her friends – instead, she sees them at the enormous gathering, she said. Leighann Heckman and Liz Kim strolled through the tightly packed crowd wearing underwear over skin-tight pants. “People you know, people you’ve been seeing for years, people you don’t know – everyone just comes together,” Heckman said. Matt Drabant and several of his friends were clad in black and silver mariachi costumes, including sombreros. Drabant called the gathering the best party of the year. The mariachis eschewed instruments for alcohol, he said. “It’s too hard to carry instruments when you’re carrying beers,” Drabant said. End-of-season parties in Vail have been traditionally rowdy. Until 2003, the “Beach Blankets and Bikinis” party was held every year since April Fool’s Day,1980, at an area of Vail Mountain known as Minnie’s Deck, an aspen grove above Lionshead. U.S. Forest Service officials worked with Vail Resorts to stop the revelry after they became fed up with rampant drug use, fights, trash and human waste.Murad recalled when a man climbed a tree and fell hard and another person shed blood from the impact of an ice ball at a Beach Blankets and Bikinis snowball fight. The central location and the presence of ski patrol helped curb any bad behavior Sunday, Drabant said. Brian McCartney, vice president of operations for Vail, said skiers have celebrated at the season’s end for at least the 34 years he has worked in Vail. McCartney called the party a “different environment” compared to Beach Blankets and Bikinis. He pointed out that several Vail Mountain employees were picking up trash and that few revelers were throwing snowballs. Ski patrollers commemorated the end of the season with an explosive powder called high-density primer. The crowd cheered throughout the series of loud blasts. As Donovan Sornig sipped his beer, he was already thinking about next season’s turns. “I’m looking forward to a great season,” he said. Staff Writer Steve Lynn can be reached at 748-2931 or email@example.com.